Legal Unemployment, Worldwide

In thirty years, China has gone from having six law schools to having 634. Predictably, this is not entirely good news for the graduates of those schools, as law is now the hardest profession to find employment in:

Law has topped the list of the 10 most difficult professions to land a job in the country for two consecutive years, taking the No 1 slot in 2008 and No 2 in 2007, according to a joint study released in June 2009 by China’s Academy of Social Science and Beijing-based consulting company Mycos Institute.

However, I found this even more curious:

The other majors [that are difficult professions to find employment in] include computer science, English, international economics and trade, business administration, clinical medicine, Chinese literature, art design, electronic engineering and accounting.

To be fair, ‘Chinese literature’ and ‘art design’ might be the Chinese equivalent of an American liberal arts degree, the kind everyone derides as being not good for much in the real world. But clinical medicine? Engineering? Accounting? Business administration? These are the sort of majors that sensible, job-oriented students take that are, in the U.S., supposed to leave graduates happily having their pick of employment, while their lowly English lit classmates are waiting tables.

It suggests to me, anyway, that there is nothing particularly unique about the plight of law grads in China, but that the market for highly educated labor in general is somewhat stunted.

Still, this could very much be a hindrance to China’s long-term development.

“Law graduates have the most difficulty in job hunting, which means the supply has exceeded the demand,” Wang said.

“If there is no adjustment in place soon, it is not good for the development of law in the long run.”

Unlike the U.S. — which, I might reluctantly concede, may simply have an overabundance of lawyers in general — China has come no where near to meeting the potential demand for lawyers, but rather the legal infrastructure that would support all those theoretical legal jobs has yet to materialize. The creation of a political climate that respects the rule of law necessarily requires the presence of lawyers, however. China’s fledgling legal system is characterized more by the rule of men, but there is, at least in theory, a legal system in place. A healthy bar that continuously engage in litigation to resolve disputes may or may not eventually result in a robust Chinese legal system, but nothing else has a chance of doing so.

In other law school related news from China, U.S. law grads may eventually get some competition from China, if the Peking University’s School of Transnational Law succeeds in its plan of becoming the first non-American school to be accredited by the ABA.

-Susan

Trivia Fact: This Blog is the #1 Result for International Law Lolcats

The past few days have seen a noticeable uptick in the number of google searches that direct to here for variations of either “law lolcats” or “alien tort statute hypos.”

Ahhh, that sounds like law school exam time, to me. Procrastination + dubious last minute study methods are a common MO.

Hint to all law students: If your prof happens to have a blog, it doesn’t hurt to give it a quick skim to get an idea of what sort of odd legal questions seem to catch their fancy, and thus are the sort of things they are drawn to basing fact patterns around. I swear to god this can actually pay off. Heck, checking Volokh can’t hurt either — I once inadvertently helped my roommate out by talking to her about a Volokh blog post on copyright and jazz music that turned up on her Copyright Law exam a few days later.

-Susan

Quick Hits

• Can the greater embrace of free market principles in the United States as opposed to Europe be traced back to differences between the philosophies of the English enlightenment and the Continental enlightenment?

• It’s better to beg forgiveness than offer money: “You might think that if the apology is costless then customers would ignore it as nothing but cheap talk – which is what it is. But this research shows apologies really do influence customers’ behaviour – surprisingly, much more so than a cash sweetener.” However, I doubt these results would carry over to businesses outside of the eBay sales that this study followed. On eBay, most transactions involve no human interaction at all, but rather merely clicking a series of buttons. When things go wrong, receiving an apology from a real live person can do a lot to make you feel as if you weren’t deliberately ripped off by a computer scam, but rather were the victim of a common human screw up.

And saying sorry apparently doesn’t have any sort of magical effect if you happen to be a doctor: “Apologizing for a medical error in full and accepting responsibility may boost patients’ perceptions of physicians but may not stop them from suing[.]“

• Meet the Asgarda: a tribe of Amazons in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine.

The rent-seeking behaviors of law schools and law professors: Law schools are notorious for their attempts to climb up the US News rankings by gaming the system — “Aside from hiring their own graduates to up the employment level, they all employ squads of people whose jobs are to create social costs (of course, most lawyers do the same thing), produce huge glossy magazines that go straight to the trash, weasel around with who is a first year student as opposed to a transfer student or a part time student, [and] select students with an eye to increasing one rating or another.”

This sort of rent seeking behavior occurs in all industries, but there’s something even more disquieting about it when all that effort is wasted pursuing the nebulous goals of legal academia. “Very little of [law school rent seeking] seems designed to produce new wealth. If fact, think of the actual welfare-producing activities that could be undertaken with the same levels of energy — smaller classes, more sections of needed courses, possibly even research into areas that are risky in terms of self promotion but could pay off big if something new or insightful were discovered or said. But this is the part that puzzles me. Whether the thief in Tullock’s case or monopolist in Posner’s, the prize is clear. What is the prize for law professors? Are these social costs expended to acquire rents that really do not exist or are only imagined? What are the rents law professors seek?”

-Susan